I have the privilege of serving in two different leadership roles at VCU, both of which I enjoy very much. My main professional position is as the director of the Siegel Center, the sport and entertainment venue at VCU, and the other as an adjunct professor for the Center for Sport Leadership (CSL) at VCU. While both of these positions seamlessly feed into one another, there are times when a rare dilemma emerges that creates an internal feeling of discomfort.
One such dilemma occurred while on the annual European Model of Sport trip with my CSL students during the past two weeks. Two days before the trip I received a call from the Obama campaign asking if they could return to the Siegel Center for a campaign stop as they did in 2008. The obvious answer was “yes”, and we were able to confirm a date and time within forty-eight hours with a signed agreement just one hour before I boarded a plane for Europe.
The dilemma that I faced was that the President of the United States was coming to visit my facility while I was supervising my students across the pond in another country. It was difficult being in that position because, on one hand, I felt as though I was letting my staff down but, on the other hand, I had twenty-seven students who were depending on me as we motored from one location to another throughout Ireland, England, and France. It is certainly an ego-check when I realize that things can be done without me at home, however, it is equally, if not more, rewarding to know that I have hired and trained an outstanding group of people to do a superb job of handling an event of this magnitude. As I continue to grow as a leader I have to learn to “let go” of things along the way. While I felt like I needed to oversee the event I now feel a sense of pride knowing that I have accomplished one of the hardest things to do during the professional growth phase, letting go.
The remedy to make me feel even better about my decision? There was a consolation prize waiting for me at the Philadelphia International Airport the night we arrived from Paris…our flight to Richmond was cancelled. That was all I needed to justify my decision to stay with the students and not return home for the event. In one last teaching moment on how to stay calm and to take challenges as they come, I was able to get 22 students on other flights to Norfolk, Newport News, Charlottesville, and Roanoke with drivers and vans waiting for them at each location to complete the trip to Richmond. Only six of us had to spend the night in Philadelphia to catch a flight out the next morning. ”Crises Management 101″ proved to be the last lesson of the year but the sense of knowing that the staff can perform without me was extremely rewarding, especially as I prepare for the next phase of my professional career.